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by Anne Perry
Ballantine, November 2023
208 pages
ISBN: 0593359186

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

In this Christmas novella, Mariah Ellison (grandmother of Charlotte in the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series) travels from London to St. Helens in Dorset to spend the holidays with her longtime friend Sadie Alsop. But when she gets there, Sadie has vanished and no one is looking for her. Sadie's husband, Barton, angrily turns Mariah away.

Fortunately, Mariah knows others in the village and finds someone to stay with—and to help in her investigation. She finds it unlikely that Sadie would have left without telling her, especially since Sadie had looked up the train times for Mariah and knew when she was arriving.

As Mariah begins asking questions, she realizes that much of Sadie's behavior in the past has been toxic. Mariah, in her 80s, has been on a path to change her own curt, irritable behavior. She admits to herself that she has been nasty and hateful in the past, hurting those close to her. She also looks back on some of the unkind things she and Sadie had done as young women and now sees that they were mean-spirited and, furthermore, that Sadie may not have been the good friend she thought she was.

From the villagers, she finds other shocking revelations about Sadie. Still, Mariah believes that Sadie can find redemption. But with Christmas drawing near, will she be able to find Sadie—alive and safe? And will the villagers agree to help in her investigation?

Author Anne Perry died earlier this year, but left behind this Christmas novella, published posthumously. It has a mystery at heart, of course, but revolves around forgiveness and redemption, familiar themes from Perry and ones that resonate during the holiday season. For those of us who enjoyed her Christmas stories, this is a final and unexpected gift to savor.

§Lourdes Venard is an editor for an education nonprofit and a copy editing instructor with the University of California, San Diego. She lives in Washington State.

Reviewed by Lourdes Venard, October 2023

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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